Writing Wednesday 08

When plants are plentiful and people live,
the land is grateful to the town for
their goodness. And when it snows for
an extra month, or the little girl drowns
in the river, they are told to look at
pain and then to look past it. To trust
that this land found them, that when
a glacier began melting and dripping
over stone, the river was already
dreaming of the town, calling to it.

Excerpt of “Town” by Hannah Stephenson

City

When plants are plentiful and people live,
a window-box of weeds is left noticed
and untended. A fern’s yellow frond
droops inside, in the living room corner
that needed to be filled. Through glass,
the land is grateful to the town for
a purpose greater than survival,
where one can die and lie and
thrive; a being’s value based on
the trees pressed into pockets instead of
their goodness. And when it snows for
two days, to be followed by summer sun,
a neighbour throws down the rake
once used to comb useless grass—
to remove the death from its blades.
Water wings in October, kept for
an extra month, or the little girl drowns
in the backyard pool before she can
enjoy Thanksgiving with Oma and Opa.
Cars’ exhaust pipes blow inescapable heat
into the air and its delicate, filmy
cap, kept tight and thin around the globe.
A long summer and a hectic winter, with
little time to remove the leftover concrete
windowsills of change, or whim, or economisation
for a larger paycheck. A clean brick face to fill
the hole of ex-transparency and sight. Through
the replacement glass, tenants witness pollution
in the river; they are told to look at
the bridge’s sunset instead. To see
pain and then to look past it. To trust
the City to plug the potholes that
filter light through the cross-border bridge,
dividing nation from nation, using the river
to separate laws and bureaus, as if it is true
that this land found them, that when
a glacier began melting and dripping
over stone, the river was already
dreaming of the town, calling to it.

Writing Wednesday 08

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